Award-winning student design helps stutterers find their voice

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Whitireia Bachelor of Applied Arts (Visual Arts and Design) student Matariki Wilkins-Hodges has ended her final year of the programme in award-winning style.

The Titahi Bay local has taken out the Mana Zonta Award, given annually by the club to a stand-out female student from the Whitireia Visual Arts and Design programme on completion of their degree, and has also collected a Resene Best in Show award for her piece Troubled Songbird/Tweet Sweet in this year’s graduate exhibition.

With the guidance of design tutors Brenda Saris and Alice Moore, Matariki’s Body of Work project, which spawned the video ‘Troubled Songbird’ and the brand ‘Tweet Sweet’, explored the subject of developmental stuttering.

"I knew I had to pick something that I was passionate about," she said, "because I would have to spend all year working on it. I decided I wanted raise awareness about stuttering in New Zealand. As a stutterer, this subject is very close to home."

Matariki created the concept of a songbird that has trouble tweeting but finds other ways to communicate. The story is told through a video incorporating flashcards and frame-by-frame animation, and promotes a branded website she designed to serve as a repository for information about stuttering and resources for those affected by it.

"Hopefully this story helps people who stutter find other ways to communicate, and gives others an understanding of developmental stuttering. Everyone deserves a voice, including those with a stutter."

The work has been on display at Pātaka Art + Museum’s Bottle Creek Gallery as part of Toast 2016, this year’s Whitireia Visual Arts and Design graduate exhibition. Pātaka Design and Marketing Coordinator Stu Forsyth, who judged it Best in Show - Design, said it was a very thoughtful piece of design that was well-executed and fitting for the subject matter.

"It’s refreshing to see a multi-layered piece of student design work that isn't just a pretty picture, but starts with a strong concept, enriched by illustration, typography, video, music, animation and branding," said Mr Forsyth.

Matariki Wilkins Hodges Resene

Matariki Wilkins-Hodges receives the Resene Best in Show - Design Award at Pātaka Art + Museum

Whitireia Visual Arts and Design Programme Manager Deb Donnelly said Matariki was an exceptionally determined student who overcame many challenges in her first year.

"She took on each challenge as a team player and often led us into unnavigated teaching areas. We wholeheartedly support her successes," said Ms Donnelly.

In accepting her Mana Zonta award earlier this month, Matariki noted that her goal for 2017 was to design and publish a children's book. She worked on several projects with Huia Publishers’ design team as an intern this year and has been commissioned to create the book.